Wednesday, June 25, 2008

"Give Mediation a Chance"

Yes! Yes! Yes! Give mediation a chance! That's the call from business lawyer and mediator Scott Flegal (he's got one of those last names that destined him for law, just like me!) in the Nashua Telegraph ( on June 12.

In his article, "Before Litigation, Give Mediation a Chance," Flegal explains how he's tried to pitch the virtues of mediation to businesses over the years: " 'In mediation, you make the rules. You control how your dispute gets resolved. You make the decisions. You're in control over your destiny! Isn't that terrific?' Eventually I noticed that it was at that moment of my pitch that people stopped listening to me and started dialing up their lawyer to have them file suit."

After considering the negative impact of litigation and the potential sources of America's love/hate relationship with litigation, Flegal says: "Ironically, part of the solution to this problem may involve rebuilding that very lawyer/client relationship. As lawyers, we might be able to improve it by making sure our clients understand that while the law is almost always relevant in dealing with a dispute, it is not necessarily determinative. There may be other alternatives available to the client that could do a better job of meeting the client's most important interest than filing a lawsuit. As lawyers we must use the law to understand the relative strengths and weaknesses of the client's position. But every bit as important is the role we play in helping the client decide whether asserting those legal rights in court is the best option."

Flegal's pleas to potential litigants as well as to the attorneys who are hired to help the clients to find the right solution is well-founded. Self-determination is a cornerstone of mediation and stepping up and facing a dispute as a rational adult capable of negotiating and making informed decisions is truly a great way to resolve any type of dispute!

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